Policies and Procedures
Queensland Independent Schools Block Grant Authority (QIS BGA) ensures that its policies and procedures are in line with the legislation and guidelines provided by each level of Government (Australian and State). Such policies and procedures are applied when making capital grant recommendations to the respective Ministers for Education. It is the intent of QIS BGA to not only follow the precise 'letter of the law' as set out in the legislation and the guidelines, but also to ascertain the intent of the legislation. QIS BGA has formalised the following, for overarching guidance when assessing applications for capital assistance.
- The Similarity of Australian and State Government Legislation and Guidelines
- Primacy of Funding Core Curriculum Spaces
- Minimum Viable Project
- Maximum Financial Contribution
- The Management Capacity of the School
- The School as the Primary Source of Funding for a Project
QIS BGA administers both Australian and State Government capital assistance for independent schools in Queensland. QIS BGA will apply the similar intent of both sets of legislation, thereby ensuring that all funds are allocated on the basis of the determination of educational and financial need. In the same vein, both sets of legislation support that all eligible applicants may not necessarily receive capital assistance, as a matter of course.
However, there will be instances where either Commonwealth or State legislation will dictate how application information will be assessed or how capital assistance will be allocated. An example of difference is the requirement that, when assessing whether a school is eligible for Australian Government grants, QIS BGA is obliged to take into consideration how the project will contribute to the CGP objectives and also the SES scores of applicant schools.
The primary function of Australian and State Government capital assistance is to support the development of core curriculum spaces, such as classrooms. Other facilities required for tuition or tuition support, for example Administration facilities, will be considered. This will be with the understanding that they are prioritised in order, so as to not detrimentally affect QIS BGA’s capacity to assist schools needing to provide facilities essential to curriculum delivery (see Learning Places and Spaces – Area Guidelines for Educational Spaces).
It is the responsibility of the BGA to determine the minimum viable project which will satisfy the identified educational need for the proposed project. The project will be consistent with sound educational planning, within the school and the environment in which it is operating.
If the proposed project is in excess of that which has been established as the minimum viable project, QIS BGA will be obliged not to recommend that the Minister/s contribute any funds towards the excess. On occasions, QIS BGA is requested by applicant schools to contribute to more than the minimum viable project. The school authority would need to present a compelling argument for such consideration.
After the school visit, the primary task of the Education/Buildings Capital Advisory Committee is to confirm the minimum viable project established, and advise the Finance Capital Advisory Committee if capital assistance should be considered for allocation to the proposed project.
When determining the financial need of a school, in relation to the minimum viable project, QIS BGA will establish the maximum amount a school can contribute towards the proposed project from its own resources. Resources may come from fees, loan funds, cash reserves, budget surpluses, Parents and Friends Associations, or Foundations. It is, therefore, a primary task of the Finance Committee to determine the maximum financial contribution a school can make to the minimum viable project without detrimentally affecting the school’s recurrent effort.
The two primary sources of funds available to schools for capital purposes are usually loans raised and fees charged. In establishing the maximum amount a school could be expected to contribute from its own resources to a project, QIS BGA will consider such issues as:
- The school’s debt position
- The school’s income
- The school’s costs of operation.
QIS BGA is obliged to consider a school’s total income and any capacity it may have to contribute further to the cost of a capital project. The school will be required to supply QIS BGA with financial data, including audited documents, that validate the school’s financial position.
QIS BGA must be convinced of the future solvency of a school before making a recommendation to the Minister/s for a capital grant. It is recognised that what may be regarded as an appropriate, finance based benchmark will vary from school to school, so a range of criteria have been developed that enable broad finance based indicators to be established. The Finance Capital Advisory Committee has the responsibility of advising the QIS BGA Board of Directors on matters such as:
- Debt per student
- Expenditure per student
- The cost per student of “other” teaching and administration expenses
- Teacher salaries (per teacher average)
- Student/teacher ratio
- The fee structure as a source of income
- The appropriate surplus in recurrent income which is available to service debt – annual debt servicing as a percentage of income
- Future cash flow projections.
It is expected that an independent school seeking a capital grant will be the primary source of funding for the proposed project. While 'primary' usually means the major or main contributor, extra ordinary circumstances could exist where a project may be allocated a larger grant than the school’s contribution.